Senator wants to get the USS Pueblo back from North Korea

North Korea has something that belongs to the United States and Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO) wants it back. Allard has asked Condoleezza Rice to help push for the return of the USS Pueblo, which was seized by North Korea in 1968 and remains the only commissioned US warship is the possession of a foreign power. In an incident similar to recent events involving the capture of British personnel by Iranian forces, the North Koreans fired upon and seized the USS Pueblo in international waters when they claimed it was a spy ship that entered their coastal zone.  The crew was then imprisoned for year and subjected to torture, which became more severe when North Korean authorities figured out that the “Hawaiian good luck” gesture that the crew used in staged propaganda photos was actual the classic “finger”.

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The USS Pueblo currently serves as a trophy that the Koreans proudly flaunt in Pyongyang for “anti-American education” as decreed by Kim Jong Il.

Adding an interesing hue to this story is the fact that Allard has suggested that the US dangle a nineteenth century battle flag as trade bait for the Pueblo. The flag dates to a forgotten conflict when the US launched a punitive campaign against Korea in 1871.  In that year, the US launched a naval expedition in retaliation for an attack upon an American vessel in which all aboard were mutiliated and killed.  In a foreshadowing of General MacArthur’s bold invasion nearly a century later, US marines and sailors landed near Inchon and promptly routed all opposition while destroying five enemy forts.  The Korean battle flag now on display at the US Naval Academy was captured during this action. (A thorough account and photos of the conflict can be found here. )

Although forgotten by most Americans, the 1871 conflict is still well known by North Koreans – who regard those killed in the fighting as national heroes. Allard hopes that offering the flag in exchange for the Pueblo will appeal to the North Korean’s sense of pride. The North Koreans seem willing to consider a trade, but so far the State Department has indicated that its position will remain that the Pueblo is illegally seized property of the US and should be returned outright.

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Explore posts in the same categories: American Veterans Center, History, Veteran News

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